After deciding on Dalyan, Turkey as our vacation destination, we booked a 5 bedroom villa to house all 7 adults and 4 kids. Everything I read online said that Dalyan was a small fishing town a few kilometers from the beach, but we really didn’t know much more until we arrived. Pomegranate farms surrounded the town and there were chickens and cows walking along the street daily right past the rental house.
Settling in, we soon realized everything was within close walking distance. The “city center” was an easy 10-minute walk to shops, restaurants and bars. The town was usually full of tourist from about May through October, and the shop owners talked of working around the clock during these months to provide for themselves the rest of the year. While I could go on for days about our time, here are a few highlights during our trip.
- Mediterranean by Boat– There was a system of waterways connecting a large lake to the ocean surrounding the city. A primary tourist attraction was spending a day on a boat with a Capitan leading exploration. During our first walk into town, there must have been at least 50 boats lined and ready for hire. Each captain was looking to sell his boat and experience. After some skillful negotiations from my mother in law, we decided upon Captain Kamal and his crew. He did not disappoint! We were on the boat from about 9am-5pm, visiting various beaches, offshore swim spots, blue crab catching while the crew prepared a BBQ lunch, and a stop at the popular Turkish mud baths. The crew was so accommodating, especially with the kids. I can’t put into word how amazing this day was, the highlight of our trip for sure.
- Accidental hardest, but most amazing bike ride of my life– My father in law is an active cyclist in Cape Town and no stranger to riding some big inclines. Ian and I are always up for a challenge. We came across several places renting bikes and the price was right (about $10 per day). We scoured strava and google maps for the right place to ride. The easiest route was to take the road that the buses drive to the beach, about 8 miles each way. My father in law came across a road as you got to the beach, I believe he used the words “little bit of a climb.” We rented bikes the night before, some newer basic mountain bikes. Same size and frame for all of us… that’s right Ian and I on the same sized bike (despite the shop owner pointing me towards the beach cruiser with the basket.) It was a climb just to get to the entrance to the beach. Once to that point we saw the road leading us up to the look out area. To say this was the hardest biking riding I’ve ever done is an understatement. We were on mountain bikes on the road climbing for about 2 miles up. We stopped about every 20 minutes to decide if we should push on or turn back. Dying to see the breath taking views that were promised, we powered on. We finally reached a dirt service road and through a combination of biking and hike a biking we reached a peak. I climbed up a hill desperate to view a viewing point. At that moment it was all worth it. I called for Ian and Peter to climb up and the views of Izutzu beach and Dalyan was beyond words. FIT FAMILY AT ITS FINEST!
- Market to Table Food– Turkey has two types of markets, goods and food. They sell a lot of “name brand” items (North Face, Nike, Converse, Micheal Kors), but will be sure to tell you it is made in Turkey. Many of the shops in town and markets were dedicated to selling clothes and shoes, and bartering was a must. The other markets were food markets, and each day of the week it rotated locations in about a 30-minute radius. My mother in law and sisters in law decided to take a 20-minute bus ride to Ortica to visit the biggest of these markets that more local people shopped. It was by far the biggest farmers market I have seen. Stand after stand of produce, home brined olives, breads, cheeses, and spices. Every thing was to sample and the language barrier lead to me tasting some very old and very gross cheese. For very little money we walked away with backpacks full of fresh food. With a full kitchen at our villa, we took turns making meals each night. Even when eating out, the food was so fresh. Our favorite item was Gözleme, which was similar to homemade tortillas that were filled with anything from meat and cheese to sweets. They were rolled out and made fresh by women everywhere we went, including the beach. We also eat kofta, which was a small meat patty that was specially seasoned whenever we got the chance. It only took a few days of eating fresh for these Americans to loose the preservative bloat.
Even at the end of the 12 days we spent in Daylan, we were all sad to leave, despite traveling to Istanbul for 2 days before all heading home. I know my kids won’t remember this vacation (a big reason I am doing this blog), but it was truly one for the ages. It was the perfect destination for a relaxing family get away. When the country is stable again, I would recommend anyone to visit Mediterranean Turkey.